Secure British jobs for the defence sector, says Labour
The Labour Party is demanding greater protection of jobs in the defence sector by calling on the government to adopt a ‘British-built by default’ approach, intended to boost manufacturing within the UK supply chain.
The opposition party says that a new threshold is needed for equipment to be sourced outside of the UK, requiring proof that defence projects cannot be built under similar terms in Britain.
Moreover, Labour is calling on ministers to report annually on the proportion of defence spending going through British companies, and to improve procurement rules to promote prosperity in supply chain businesses throughout the UK’s towns, regions, and industries such as steel.
The party accuses the Conservative government of breaking promises made to the Armed Forces and wasting taxpayer money through its decade-long policy of ‘open competition by default’ that has seen the UK buying off-the–shelf defence equipment from overseas.
Labour analysis shows that more than £6 billion of allocated spending in government’s Integrated Review and Defence Command Paper is going on off-the-shelf purchases of surveillance aircraft from overseas. It also found that 30,000 defence industry jobs have been lost since 2010 under the Conservatives.
John Healey, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, said: “The Prime Minister has already broken promises made to military personnel by cutting 10,000 posts in the Army. On the Tories’ watch, we have also lost tens of thousands of jobs across the industry and wasted time on key contracts.
“Of course, there will be essential equipment or systems which makes strategic sense for Britain to develop with allies or to buy direct from overseas, but we want to see a much higher bar for this.
“When done well, defence spending has a multiplier effect, strengthening our UK economy. Covid has exposed the risks of relying on foreign supply chains. Labour’s ‘British by default’ policy would strengthen the UK’s sovereignty and security.”